My earliest memories of DP start when I was about six or seven. That period in my childhood was somewhat difficult for me. My parents had just concluded their divorce and my mother was in the process of getting remarried to a man I had not yet even met. She had moved to an island in the Pacific to be with this man while I lived with my father in California.
I am not sure if this has anything to do with my I have DP or not, I just realize that the DP began happening at that point in my life. My DP is not caused by drugs, as far as I know, even though my mother may have taken a drug or two while she was pregnant with me. I have no idea whether that could possibly cause DP. I have smoked marijuana several times and the experience was generally unpleasant. It made me extremely self-conscious and paranoid. Often times I would feel as if other people in the room were involved in a conspiracy against me. I also remember having flashbacks to some memories from my early childhood (age 5-7) that I hadn’t thought about in many years. Drugs have never caused me to have a DP episode and I haven’t noticed any changes in the frequency of my episodes in relation to the frequency of my drug use.
Many people who have DP seem to describe this feeling that they are not themselves. They look into a mirror and do not see themselves or question who they are looking at. In my case, it goes a bit deeper. I look at the world and question ITS reality too. That includes myself and everything else in the universe. One way I’ve explained the way I feel (or think) is this: draw a circle in your mind and put yourself, your life, your family, your friends, your job, your house, everyone else in the world, the government, everything else in the world, the stars, the planets, the galaxies inside of this circle. Then imagine stepping out of that circle and looking into it from the outside and knowing that what’s inside the circle may or may not be real, and if it is real, desperately wanting to know why it’s there. If it’s not real, why bother to go through the charade of everyday life? What am I afraid of? Who’s controlling me? Someone must be controlling me because I know this reality isn’t real yet I go to work, I pay my taxes and do as I’m told when in reality I should have this fucking reality and everything in it at my disposal to do what I choose to with it. That’s where the anxiety comes from. And the fear that grips me like a noose around my neck, choking me so that I can’t breath. It’s the question: Why am I here?
That question brings on so many other thoughts in my head. Like, am I real? Is anything really real? Where is the proof? Then there is the thought that I’m not sure I can even explain in words. Complete and udder hopelessness comes over me and I just stop caring about everything. I see people living their lives and not asking these questions that I ask – and I can’t understand how they can NOT ask these questions. Sure, many people have asked “what’s the meaning of life?”, but have they ever stepped out of life for a moment to observe it from the outside? To see it from the perspective that challenges you to actually FEEL the question. No. That’s my burden to bear, I guess. I’m stuck in a world in which I don’t have 100% faith in its reality, yet I am afraid of it… afraid to act on this knowledge or feeling. Maybe that’s a good thing. If you boil it all down I guess the number one problem that I have related to DP is this feeling of being trapped. Trapped inside my own body and inside this reality when my mind has decided that there is a lot more going on. My DP will usually come when I am by myself… sometimes walking down the street or just sitting at home. It happens around other people sometimes. Especially when I’m in a situation where I feel I have very little control. I was arrested one time when I was 16 and put in a jail cell and I thought I was going to go insane. The lack of control over my situation was nearly too much to handle, even though I was only there for less than 24 hours. Sometimes I feel like my DP is a way for my mind to escape suffering. If this isn’t real, then this can’t be happening. I had no idea what DP was until I started learning about psychology. I ended up going to a shrink and he told me that I have what sounds like Depersonalization Disorder. I learned a little more about it and heard other people’s experiences and I am pretty sure he was right. The only differences I can see between myself and others is that my DP seems to have nothing to do with drugs and when I have an episode, the “unreal” feeling doesn’t just make me question my own identity, but the reality of myself AND everything around me.